Selous Rhino Project partnered with FZS

We are currently fund raising for a second hand Toyota Land cruiser-see how you can help...

 Rhino Security Strategy – Selous Game Reserve

Frankfurt Zoological Society

INTRODUCTION:  Rhino poaching is on the increase across Africa and it is likely that this situation will continue unabated for the foreseeable future.  Law enforcement remains our single most important action to oppose poaching, but the quality of law enforcement can be extremely variable, with efforts often ad-hoc, poorly managed and not measureable.  Working together with our partners, the Wildlife Division (WD) of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism (MNRT), and other concerned parties (e.g. Selous Rhino Trust), we aim prioritise an increased security presence in the Kidai Rhino Area of Selous Game Reserve (SGR).

 Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS) prides itself in having a long track record of supporting law enforcement systems in Protected Areas across Africa, but our approaches have had varying results on the ground.  FZS recognises the need to develop a standardised approach to developing efficient and effective law enforcement systems within our project areas.  With this in mind, over the next year FZS, working with the WD, will develop a Security Plan for SGR. However, till such a Plan is developed and funding secured for such activities, we need to support the WD in its increased efforts to reduce poaching.

There is national and international concern at the plight of elephants and rhinos in SGR. National concern has led to a change in leadership of SGR; Mr. Benson Kibonde has been re-instated as Project Manager of SGR. A new sense of urgency has been introduced by the Project Manager to SGR and he is trying to achieve maximum benefits with limited resources, and is focused on anti-poaching. There is a real opportunity to effect long-term positive change for rhino protection with the current leadership in place.

 GOAL: To improve security of the SGR’s black rhino population.

 

OBJECTIVES:  Effective support for black rhino security, monitoring and management operations in Kidai Area of SGR.

 

PROJECT SUMMARY

 

PROJECT TITLE:  Operational support for Kidai Rhino Post of Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania.

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATION:  The Selous Game Reserve (SGR), gazetted in 1922, covers some 50,000km2(7˚17’ - 10˚15’ S, 36˚04’ - 38˚46’ E) in south-eastern Tanzania.  Altitude ranges from 100m in the north-east to 1200m in the south west.  The main physical feature of SGR is the Rufiji River, which drains much of the Reserve.  Annual rainfall ranges from 750mm in the east to 1250mm in the west, falling mainly from December to April.  There are two main vegetation types in the Reserve: the eastern sector (17%) is mainly wooded grassland dominated by Terminalia spinosa and the western sector (75%) is deciduous miombo woodland (Brachystegia, Julbernardia and Pterocarpus).  There are also areas of dense thicket, riverine and groundwater forests. 

STATEMENT OF NEED:  Rhinos in Selous Game Reserve (SGR) have suffered high levels of poaching, in particular during the 1980s. Rhinos which numbered 3,000 in 1981 then declined to 300-400 by the end of the 1980s (UNESCO, 2007). It is thought that rhino populations in SGR now number less than 100 individuals (this could be as low as 30 individuals). Through much of the 1990s and 2000s, there were concerted efforts to monitor and protect the rhino in SGR. However, in 2008, these activities were stopped because of work permit issues and difficulties with the SGR management authorities. Such impediments have disappeared and the MNRT/WD has expressed an interest in beginning rhino monitoring and anti-poaching activities with outside involvement again. There is a desperate need to kick-start rhino protection work in SGR.

As a matter of urgency we would initially focus on protecting the northern rhino population at Kidai which is in an area that has experienced high levels of elephant poaching in recent years (Smith & Smith, 2008). 

 It is important to emphasize that the Selous rhino population is totally natural; it has not been bolstered by rhino translocations from other areas of Africa and therefore is of high conservation value.

As there is no up-to-date data on rhino numbers and only very limited active rhino anti-poaching occurring in SGR, we would focus on these two activities for the most well known, and therefore vulnerable population in SGR. This is the Kidai rhino population.  Kick-starting rhino anti-poaching in the Kidai area would have the added benefit of protecting other wild animal populations in this area, in particular the elephant population.

HOW YOU CAN HELP:  The WD is willing to commit a team of three staff full-time to the Kidai Rhino Post. There will also be a rotating team of eight WD rangers present at all times. The three full-time staff would be responsible for running the post.  FZS, working with the three WD staff, would co-ordinate anti-poaching activities. FZS would also bring in a monitoring regime once anti-poaching activities are begun. We have a desperate need for the following equipment to begin systematic anti-poaching activities in the Kidai area:

·         A second-hand Landcruiser pick-up: $20,000-$30,000. This would allow systematic patrols in the Kidai area begin. The Landcruiser would be based fulltime at the Kidai Rhino Post.

·         One boat engine: $8,000. The post has two operational boats and two broken 40 hp Yamaha Enduro engines. This would allow for anti-poaching patrols along the Rufiji River.

·         Two cameras with inbuilt GPS units: $1,000. This will allow rangers to take pictures of any signs of poaching or sightings of rhino. The pictures will have date, time and GPS location stamped on them.

·         Operational costs: $6,000. The WD has a fuel budget and all rangers are responsible for providing themselves with provisions out of their night allowances. However, this amount would be used to cover any short-fall or vehicle operational needs.

 

REFERENCE:

Smith, F. & Smith, K. (2008) Selous Rhino Project: Interim Report January-June 2008. Unpublished report for the Wildlife Division, MNRT.

 

UNESCO/IUCN (2007). Selous Game Reserve (United Republic Of Tanzania). Report of the Reactive Monitoring Mission. Paris and Gland, Switzerland.

Related Stories